Just to clarify, Sahne is the German word for cream and as such is my justification for such a shaky play on words in the title. The use of the German word cream is apt though because Leroy Sane really is the cream of Germany’s up and coming attacking talent. His signing from Schalke 04 in a deal potentially worth up to €50m (around £42m) is both a gamble and a coup for Manchester City.
As I’ve written before here on EPL Index about Sane, he has superstar potential with blockbuster talent and if he can reach somewhere close to that potential then Manchester City will now be the beneficiaries. Sane has explosive pace, fantastic dribbling ability, a magnificent left foot and no fear. As you would expect from a 20 year old, he has yet to find a consistent level and sometimes his lack of fear leads to some questionable decision making, but that can improve with maturity. Fortunately for him and City, they have a coach in Pep Guardiola who is excellent with talented young players and developing their potential.
The concern for some in Germany will be that Sane has moved too soon and obviously, only time will tell if that is the case or not, but the opportunity to work with Guardiola in what could be the start of an exciting time at The Etihad. The high price tag inevitably brings with it pressure and expectation, but managing Sane carefully in his debut season in the Premier League could be key to his long term success. City fans will no doubt get flashes of his extraordinary talent and become very excited about his potential with their club, but I feel they will need to be patient with their expectations and allow him the time he will likely need to adapt and grow.
Last summer it was Raheem Sterling that was the talented and promising winger arriving for a high transfer fee and although he has had a stop-start time thus far at City, the arrival of Sane could actually help him nurture under Guardiola. The two can share minutes over the course of the season, easing the burden of pressure and expectation on each other. With the more experienced Nolito also signed and the exquisite David Silva at the club, City have so many more genuine options in their attacking midfield. Often, people just think about game time as a way of developing young players, but sometimes they just need to be able to step away and work on the training, away from public glare and without the scrutiny of tv cameras.
The depth of City’s attacking talent in their squad should allow both Sane and Sterling the opportunity to develop in that way under Guardiola and his staff. Sterling’s unpopular public persona, partly due to his agent, does not help in the perception of his development and performance. Now, whilst the arrival of Guardiola, Nolito and Sane can help take some of the focus off Sterling and give him the opportunity to start realising the huge potential he has, that focus that remains on Sterling can ease the burden on Sane. For some, that may sound a bit silly and expect two players who close to £100m between them should be able start every game and make an instant and sustained impact. However, difficult as it may seem, the transfer fees have to be put to one side for the time being and remember that these are two young players who require time to develop. Obviously, Sterling is the older of the two and has been playing Premier League football for a few seasons, so he will be expected to make his developments sooner rather than later, but he still requires some patience.
Sane, on the other hand, does not have a great deal of first team experience, with last season being his first as a regular starter for Schalke. He had an excellent first half of the season, but his performances dropped off somewhat in the second half of Schalke’s Bundesliga campaign. He finished up the season with 8 goals and 6 assists in his 33 Bundesliga appearances, not spectacular statistics, but not bad for a player of his age and inexperience. What was abundantly clear was his talent and Pep Guardiola was able to see it at close quarters and recognised it, so the future for him and City could be a very exciting.